By Tony Jimenez
LYTHAM ST ANNES, England (Reuters) - Course staff have worked tirelessly to make sure a Lytham layout battered by rain will be fit for the start of the British Open and organizers believe they are over the worst of the bad weather.
Britain has experienced one of its worst summers in recent memory and the repercussions have been all too evident at the Lancashire links on the north-west coast of England.
"The weather has caused us some problems ... but the course is at the moment perfectly playable," championship committee chairman Jim McArthur told reporters on Wednesday, the eve of the third major of the season.
"Thanks go to the huge and time consuming efforts of the greenkeeping staff and the additional greenkeeping staff we have brought in to help us."
McArthur said the putting surfaces were good but acknowledged there were still problems with some of the 200-plus bunkers dotted around the course.
"The greens are fine and putting well (although) they are a bit soft and a bit slower than we'd probably like," he added. "There are some bunkers which are causing us some concern because of the water table and the level of the groundwater.
"There are perhaps half a dozen bunkers where the water is pretty close to the surface but we are working on them."
McArthur said the Royal & Ancient (R&A) organizers were not planning to use preferred lies and the lifting, cleaning and placing of golf balls.
"We'll have some issues off the golf course with spectator walkways which we're dealing with at the moment and these are gradually improving," he added.
"We're really hoping the improving weather forecast which we've been promised will take some of the pressure off but we're in pretty good shape going forward."
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said course conditions had improved a lot in the last 10 days.
"It was much wetter then after a cloud burst than it is now," he said. "This course does dry extremely quickly I'm delighted to say.
"Whatever rain we're going to get overnight tonight will stop around 0400 and then the forecast is dry for the rest of the championship so I think we're going to see the course getting progressively back towards links-style conditions."
Former world number one Tiger Woods and defending champion Darren Clarke have described the rough as "brutal" in some areas and Dawson agreed.
"Certainly if you stray a long way off these fairways the rough is brutal, as it is on every links course in the British Isles at the moment, with the summer weather, if you can call it summer weather, that we've had," he explained.
"The champion on Sunday I doubt will have won from the rough. I think he'll be winning from the short grass so there's a premium on hitting fairways this week.
"But if you stray a long way off the fairways, and the fairways are reasonably generous, you're going to be penalized," added Dawson.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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